Keeping Secrets (Sephany POV)

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Rooftop Garden

Soft grasses form a lawn central to this open air garden, producing a pleasant picnic space. Surrounding this greenery is a sanded and bordered path that wends around it and continues toward the front of the roof, where the pleasant aromas of cultivated herbs waft on the breeze. Rock gardens and low-hanging tropical trees form shelter from the elements, combined with an overhanging jut of the caldera wall, underneath which benches and sun chairs have been arrayed, rather like a natural gazebo.

“This looks good.”

Sephany sweeps her foot around the base of the tree, clearing it of leaves and other debris. After handing her plate to Sevran to hold, she carefully lowers herself to the ground, settling in against the roots of the tree, scooting herself back until she’s up against the trunk.

“And there’s room for you to sit next to me, too,” she tells him cheerfully, glancing up and flashing a warm smile his direction. It wobbles a bit as she takes in his expression. He looked distant, staring at the tree with the weirdest sort-of smile on his face. It was a look she’d never seen before.

“Are you alright?”

“Of course.”

And just like that, the look was gone and he was handing her both of their plates so that he could follow after her, folding his long legs beneath him as he settles into the little nook created by the tree roots, nestling in beside her in that comfortable, snuggling way that she loved.

Sephany was pretty sure she’d never get to old to enjoy when her brother snuggled up to her. It was like warmth, and light, and protection. She never felt afraid if he was nearby. Even if she never really felt afraid at all. There was just something different about being with Sevran.

Slipping an arm around his waist, she gives him a brief hug before retreating to start on her meal.

“How are you liking the Weyr?” he wonders idly, picking at what’s left of his own meal.

“It’s nice,” she says with a little grin. “But I’m kinda getting over all this tropical stuff. I kinda wish the Hall was located somewhere further north. I got to visit Fort Hold once with one of the Journeyman, and it was snowing. I couldn’t believe how cold it was! I felt like my nose was going to fall off… Are you even listening?”

He has that *look* again. His eyes are kinda distant, and there’s an expression on his face that she can’t read. She doesn’t like it. Usually she can read him like a book; he couldn’t hide anything from her even when he tried. But this is different. She’s never seen it before, and it makes her nervous and sad. Like he was moving away from her.

“Hm? Yeah, I was listening. You said it was so cold your nose was going to fall off,” he repeats back, flashing her a smile. Her smile. The one no one else got. It calms her a little bit, but there is still something different that she doesn’t like.

“Somethings happened,” she says, dropping her voice to a soft murmur, as if afraid to tread into this unknown territory.

“Why do you say that?”

His voice is just a little too neutral, a little too flat, and she catches it immediately. The scowl she sends him was one of her best; anger and a little bit wounded. It’s adding that look of hurt that really does it. It works like a dream, and she sees him immediately deflate, guilt flashing through those grey eyes that matched hers so well. He looks away, unable to meet her gaze as she silently calls him on his crap.

He sets his plate aside, sighs low and runs a hand through his too-long hair.

“I can’t talk about it.”

“Even to me?”


And now she is really hurt, and afraid, and angry. He always told her everything. Everything. There wasn’t anything they had kept from each other since the day she was born. He knew her entire life. She knew his. They’d been inseparable. Even when he tried to keep things from her that he thought she shouldn’t know (like when he slept with her best friend because the girl he really wanted said no) she knew. They had no secrets between them. Until now.

So for him to say he couldn’t talk about it? Even to her? It was like a stab to the heart. A deep betrayal.

“Why not?”

And now there is silence from him. She is OK with silence, though. Silence means he’s thinking things through, really digesting the question before he answers. Usually, the longer the silence, the more likely he was to tell her what she wanted to know. So she doesn’t bug him; doesn’t even look at him. She just carefully picks at the meager offering on her plate, pushing her vegetables around rather than actually eating them. When the silence stretches across the minutes, she puts her plate down, threads her arms through his, and snuggles up close to lean her head on his shoulder as best she can.

With a low exhale he finally says, “I think I’m in love.”

It was not what she was expecting. Especially since the way he said it sounded more like he was broken than elated. When she had been in love, brief as it had been, everything had seemed so wonderful. Rain or shine, hot or cold, everything was amazing and delightful and just… perfect. But Sevran made it sound like it was the worst thing to have ever happened to him. Her heart breaks a little for him, and she abandons her plate completely in an effort to cuddle up as much as possible, throwing her arms around him and nestling in until he finally relents and puts his arms around her too, drawing her close like he used to when she was little.

“You sound… I mean, is it that bad?” she wonders softly, leaning her cheek against his shoulder. Flashbacks to being five Turns old, nightmares waking her in the dark. Sevran sleeping on the floor of her room to keep the monsters at bay. “I thought love was the highest of highs.”

“It can also be the lowest of lows,” he reminds her, giving her shoulders a quick squeeze. Yes, it could, she agrees to herself. But it doesn’t start out like that, and if he only *thinks* he’s in love, then this is the beginning stage, right? The part with rainbows and sparkles, and all things soft and amazing?

“It’s complicated,” he offers, and the way his voice kinda drags out that first word has her wrinkling her nose and rolling her eyes.

“Well, does she love you back?”

The barest ripple of tension through his body, felt because she’s so close to him physically and mentally, has her head rocking back and giving him the eye.

“Wait… What?” blink-blink. “It’s a guy?” That is news to her, and quite unexpected. She’s never thought about her brother in those terms before, though she certainly didn’t see anything wrong with the idea. It was just… awkward. “I thought; well, after all your pining for Cora—“ and she winces at the withering look he gives her for bring up her name. “Hey! It’s not my fault you don’t write and tell me things anymore.”

She’ll pout, for good measure, because it was effective on her brother and because she felt completely and thoroughly put-out at his lack of communication since they parted at Igen. But despite her feelings of abandonment, and the tiny flare of jealousy that his admission of love has brought to life, she can’t help but want to soothe him in his discomfort.

“Well, then. Does he love you back?” she’ll try again.

“It’s complicated.”

Sephany gave a huff and a roll of her eyes that was so much like Sevran’s own, it makes him laugh. Which just earns him a stuck-out tongue as she pushes away from him.

“That usually means ‘no’.” she tells him, teasing only a little bit, starting to understand the reason for his distant expression and tone.

He shrugs his shoulders dismissively and picks up his plate again, using it as an excuse not to meet her eyes. She knows that look. Knows it means he was going to do everything in his power to ignore the topic. Bury it and pretend it never happened. She sighs a longsuffering sigh for her idiot brother.

“It is what it is,” he says with finality. “And it’s my issue to deal with.”

He simply points at her abandoned plate with his fork, eyes never leaving his own.

“Eat your food. You’re too skinny.”

And with that, Sephany knew the topic was closed. She’d have to try again another day.

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